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Ten Characters from American Folklore



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  • Arts & Humanities
  • Educational Technology
  • Social Sciences
    U.S. History, Regions/Cultures


3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Advanced

Brief Description

Students learn about Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and five other characters from America's folk history. Student work sheet included.


Students will
  • read short stories about ten characters from American folklore.
  • match a statement about each character with the correct character.
  • rewrite one of the ten stories in their own words (optional).
  • connect the story they choose to the place on a U.S. map where it took place (optional).


folktale, folk tale, folklore, lore, legend, tall tale, Davy Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, Sam Hyde, Ethan Allen, Pecos Bill, John Henry, Daniel Boone, Jesse James, Casey Jones, Paul Bunyan, literature

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry: Those men of fact and folklore are part of the fabric of the American legend. In this lesson in cultural literacy, students learn about them and about six other characters from America's folk history.

The best way for students to complete this activity is to access the American Folklore Web site. If students do not have computer access, provide the ten stories to students by (1) recording the stories and making the tape available in a listening center or (2) printing the stories and creating a book.

After students have read the ten stories, have them complete the Ten Characters from American Folklore work sheet. An answer key appears in the Assessment section below.

Online Resources: Ten Characters from American Folklore

Ethan Allen

Johnny Appleseed

Pecos Bill

Daniel Boone

Paul Bunyan

Davy Crockett

John Henry

Sam Hyde

Jesse James

Casey Jones

Extension Activities

  • Challenge students to act out one of the stories, then do the work sheet.
  • Invite students to rewrite stories from the American Folklore Web site in their own words. Arrange the stories around a wall map of the United States, and string yarn from each story to the state in which it took place. Use American Folklore's State Folktales or Regional Folktales Web pages to place the stories according to their state or region.


    Students will achieve a score of at least 80 percent on the work sheet. ANSWER KEY: 1. Davy Crockett 2. Johnny Appleseed 3. Sam Hyde 4. Ethan Allen 5. Pecos Bill 6. John Henry 7. Daniel Boone 8. Jesse James 9. Casey Jones 10. Paul Bunyan

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    Submitted By

    Gary Hopkins

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English

    • GRADES K - 12
      NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    Click to return to the Once Upon a Time ... lesson plan page.

    See more literature lessons in Ed World's Language Arts archive and in our Language & Literature Subject Center.

    Originally published 09/13/2002
    Last updated 07/02/2010